Cranio-sacral Overview

parietals nasal maxillar

Cranio-sacral Dysfunctions with Canines/Felines

Cranio-sacral Osteopathy for humans was developed by William Sutherland D.O., a student of Andrew
Still D.O. around 1935 in Kirksville, Missouri. He spent almost fifty years of his life doing research studying
the relationship between the structure/form of the cranial bones and their function to understand the
complexity of the cranio-sacral mechanism. He developed several models (boneus, membranous, and
spiritual) and wrote several books regarding his findings. The Cranial Bowl was one of his most popular
books. Dr. Sutherland D.O. was one of the inspirations of the official American Cranial Academy which
is today, a well respected academy for research and teaching.

There are many similarities in the cranio-sacral mechanics of humans and canines. Both have
approximately 29 cranial bones, and they are connected with sutures in between. These cranial bones
move in a consistent, rhythmical pattern with each other and with the sacrum in the pelvis. For canines,
the cranio-sacral rhythm is faster approximately 14-16 times per minute compared to humans 8-12 times
per minute. There are three main rhythms in the body: the heart beat, the breathing rhythm, and the
cranio-sacral rhythm.

The cranio-sacral rhythm ensures that the sutures between the bones can serve as a shock absorber
to an impact to the head. Another important function of the cranio-sacrsal mechanics is to function as
a pump for the cerebral spinal fluid. The cerebral spinal fulid (CSF), that feeds the neurological tissues,
needs to be dispersed throughout the brain and the whole dural sack. The CSF is finally absorbed in
the vascular system. With canines the dura attaches to the middle of the anterior surface of the sacrum.
This is the reason why there is a connection between the dural movement in the cranium and the pelvis.

The normal rhythm between the cranium and the sacrum is very crucial for the health of the animal and
for successful functioning of the musculo-skeletal system. Cranial dysfunctions can contribute to
lumbo-pelvis dysfunctions and other neurological disorders. Other common cranial symptoms with
canines can be:

  • chronic ear and sinus infections
  • droopy eyes
  • excessive jawing
  • equilibrium problems
  • general not feeling well
  • headaches and tilts
  • lack of energy
  • seizures


    Phillip Greenman D.O., College for Osteopathic Medicine, Lansing, Michigan
    Frank Lowen LMT, Lowen Systems, Spokane, Washington
    Fred Mitchell Sr. D.O., "Evaluation and Treatment Manual of Osteopathic Manipulative Procedures". 1979
    Lauren "Bear" Rex D.O., URSA Foundation, Edmunds, Washington
    Edward Stiles D.O., F.O.A., College for Osteopathic Medicine, Pikeville, Kentucky
    William Sutherland D.O., "The Cranial Bowl", Kirksville, Missouri

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